September 17, 2008

From the Front: 09/17/2008

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

In their own words:
Ned Parker: America's declining influence in Baghdad - Today's Los Angeles Times reports on how America's influence in Iraq is waning. There are numerous examples of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki asserting his independence on key issues with the United States. Arguably the most important is a U.S.-Iraq security agreement that the two sides are negotiating. If Iraq gets its way, by next summer, U.S. forces will be restricted to bases outside cities unless Iraq chooses to ask them to remain in population centers. The U.S. military also has accepted an Iraqi government push to take control of the U.S.-funded Sunni paramilitary fighters, who are credited with decimating Al Qaeda in Iraq and helping to reduce the country's violence dramatically. Despite assurances from U.S. and Iraqi officials, the Sunni fighters are worried that the Iraq government plans to prosecute some of their leaders on criminal charges and would fail to provide them viable jobs in return for dissolving their program. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: Iraqi Police part with Company K to run independently - FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 11, 2008) – Operating independently for about a month now, the Iraqi Police (IP) in the Jolan District of Fallujah are successfully meeting the challenge to stand on their own as a police force. Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines recently completed the unpartnering process in Jolan to allow IPs to operate independently and to improve community relations with the local populace. The unpartnering process came in steps, as the company gradually transitioned out of the old joint security station (JSS) in the northwest corner of Fallujah. The Marines have now moved on to the outskirts at one of the city’s entry control points (ECP), where they remain available in tactical overwatch as a backstop for IP operations. (READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: Another 25 soldiers earn awards - Twenty-five soldiers assigned to Afghan Integrated Security Command-Kabul of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix received awards during a ceremony at Camp Phoenix in Kabul. The soldiers are nearing the completion of their tour of duty and will be returning home in the very near future. “Thank you all for doing a really good job,” said Alabama Army National Guard Col. Christopher Morgan, commander of Afghan Integrated Security Command-Kabul. “Have a safe trip home and it won’t be long before you will all get back together as a unit. Godspeed.” Afghan Integrated Security Command-Kabul provides trainers and mentors for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police in the Kabul area, which is also the Afghan national capital. (READ MORE)

Lt. Col. Paul Fanning: Working with embedded reporters - One of the most interesting parts of my job as the Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix Public Affairs Officer is working with and supporting reporters who are "embedding" with our task force. The Department of Defense authorizes civilian news media to become inserted with units for the purpose of covering events and then reporting on what the military is doing. They have to fill out a lot of paperwork and apply. The military has to review and approve their request and then arrange for them to physically get to the unit they will cover. We do that right over here, and we usually get it done pretty quick. "Credentialed" press get badges that tell our troops that they are welcome members of the team, albeit as visitors. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: WaPo Lowers the Bar - Once again, WaPo misses the point of its own story. This time the subject is the female suicide bombers. The reporter contradicts himself throughout, but that's not nearly as interesting as his helping a killer in her mission. He first says the women are self-motivated, then he says they are victims of a male-dominated culture, then he says they're being used. So why protect a killer? Or is did the reporter interview a terrorist? It's hard to know whether the paper interviewed a killer. Assuming the interview is real, the story raises a couple of ethical questions. The writer begins by telling us the "official" version: "U.S. and Iraqi officials say Sunni insurgent groups, especially al-Qaeda in Iraq, are using religion, money and empty promises to persuade sometimes vulnerable women to conduct suicide attacks, highlighting the movement's desperation at a time when its influence and ranks have declined." (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Ahem, ahem... - For those of you who have not already heard, Kaboom was the runner-up for blog of the year at I find that to be quite exciting! From reading the blogs of the other nominees, it seems that we were the newest one. To be so competitive and almost win after only blogging for nine months, I’d say, is pretty awesome. CPT G only started it to keep close friends and family updated. He has no intention of keeping the blog up after his deployment, so he really is just a blurp in the blogging world. I know some of the readers have been suggesting that there was foul play. I, myself, have no idea what happened with the votes. I went to bed early on Sunday evening, long before the polls closed. I was excited that we were winning, but not surprised that we did not. Congratulations to Toby Nunn and thank you to the guys at for including us. It was an honor to even be considered. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US sanctions Iranian general for aiding Iraqi terror groups - The US continues to target Iran’s Qods Force and Revolutionary Guards Corps for backing Shia terror groups inside Iraq. In the latest move, the US Department of the Treasury has designated an Iranian general and a senior member of the Mahdi Army as individuals aiding the Iraqi insurgency. Abdul Reza Shahlai, a deputy commander in Iran's Qods Force, and Akram Abas al Kabi, a senior Mahdi Army leader are among five persons and two corporations that have had their assets blocked by the US Treasury under Executive Order 13438. "These individuals are targeting and planning attacks against innocent Iraqis, the Government of Iraq, Coalition Forces, and U.S. troops," said Stuart Levey, the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a press release issued by the Treasury. (READ MORE)

Matel-in-Iraq: Horned Viper - One of the Marines saw a desert horned viper in the bathroom - the bathroom I use. He came out of the stall and there it was. Nasty looking thing. He said that it reared up. I did some research and they say that this kind of snake is shy. I am glad of that. They are also not very poisonous. I am glad of that too, but I am a little concerned about the "not very" part. I understand that they are good for catching rats, but I am not happy to have such things around. I am afraid of snakes that can bite and I am not particularly fond even of those that don’t. I have only seen snakes twice since I have been here. I am not eager to see them again. Next time I walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night in my flip-flops, I will be thinking about what I don't see and how they might be watching me. Jeez. I am narrow-minded when it comes to snakes. I don't like anything that can give me a venomous bite. (READ MORE)

Rocinante's Burdens: Day 89. Stupid Brits - Training in the Iraqi Army: We train the IA in many things. We train their special teams, their platoon and companies and their leaders. We even train their staffs. At the same time, we train them how to conduct training so that they can do it themselves when we are gone. One of our problems is that the British got here first and taught these guys the regimental system back in 1920. Now they are incapable of learning how to do it right. First off, let's remember that the American Army beat the British army over 200 years ago. Ever since then, the Brits have come crying to us to bail them out of foreign entanglements. So why would anyone follow their way of doing things? Well, here is an example of British colonialism harming a country generations after the British have left. The IA is not unique in this. All of the former British colonies (except us) run their army this same way. (READ MORE)

Soldier's Home: Old War, New Commander - General Ray Odiernoreplaced Gen. David Petraeus as head of coalition forces in Iraq today, at a time when violence in that country has decreased measurably, and the military's combat focus seems to be shifting towards Afghanistan. As expected, today's changeover ceremony brought words of warning over assumptions that Iraq is now 100 percent on the right path. Perhaps one of the more telling observations of the day came from Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief Larry Kaplow who wrote: “The dress code for the handover of American power in Iraq from Gen. David Petraeus to Gen. Ray Odierno was different today than it had been when Petraeus took the job 19 months ago. For reporters riding the armored military bus – the ‘Rhino’ – to the ceremony, helmets and bullet-proof vests were optional. Last year, amid the anarchic sectarian violence and frequent deadly attacks on U.S. forces, protective gear was a must, even with the armor, on the ride down the dangerous airport road to the American military headquarters west of Baghdad.” (READ MORE)

Big Tobacco: A Catholic Pennance - I’ve gotten as much hate mail from The Sandbox as I did with “Yes, Lizzy, there is no Santa Claus.” One of the emails is listed (with the author’s permission) below: “BT -- I know you're pissed that the Sandbox is a bunch of wussies and won't feature your stuff, but I dunno about this latest post. It has a sour-grapes tone that's a bit of a turn-off. Also, as the whole thing appears to be imagined satire (that guy isn't real, is he?) doesn't it undercut your mission of verisimilitude?” You have to admire any woman who uses the word verisimilitude correctly, and I’m not just saying that because she reads the blog and I want to have sex with her. I thought about it, and I wrote her a response. She suggested that I post it. The response is below: (READ MORE)

Back and still writing:
A Battlefield Tourist: Iraq/Afghanistan Video Archive Online - A Battlefield Tourist is really just a name for what I do, which is collect military video archive material. In 2005, I had the fortune of signing a contract with Getty Images, which turns out to be one of my biggest professional accomplishments. Last month, my latest submission from Iraq made it on-line, giving me almost 690 images currently being managed by Getty. Here’s a link to the entire collection: (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
Civil Service Corps takes root in Kirkuk Province - KIRKUK, Iraq — Kirkuk Province recently celebrated the commencement of three new Civil Service Corps. On Sept. 14, Hawijah celebrated the start of a new CSC and the next day, two started in Dibis. “The CSCs are intended to provide the necessary training, education and skill that will allow the graduates to seek and attain good paying jobs and to begin the hard task of rebuilding Iraq village by village, city by city,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Hudie, commander, 3rd Battalion, 6th Artillery regiment, 10th Mountain Div, at the Dibis commencement ceremony. (READ MORE)

Tip from SoI leads MND-B Soldiers to munitions in northwest of Baghdad - BAGHDAD – A Sons of Iraq member and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers combined their efforts to secure the Baghdad area and uncover weapons caches Sept. 16. A tip from a Sheik, who serves as a SoI member, led Soldiers serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, to the seizure of seven 57 mm rockets northwest of Baghdad at approximately 10:30 a.m. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers find IEDs, detain suspected criminal in Baghdad - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division –Baghdad Soldiers found two improvised-explosive devices in Baghdad’s Rashid district Sep. 16. At approximately 8:30 a.m., National Police from the 1st Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, reported a possible IED to Soldiers of Troop B, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in the Zubaida community. (READ MORE)

Medics strengthen U.S., Iraqi relations at local clinic (Ibrahim Khaleel) - IBRAHIM KHALEEL, Iraq – Medics from the 16th Sustainment Brigade provided immunizations to local Iraqi children Sept 10 at the Ibrahim Khaleel Health Clinic near Habur Gate. “It was an excellent visit,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel De Luna Jr., non-commissioned officer in charge, Habur Gate Aid Station, Logistics Task Force Alpha, 16th Special Troops Battalion,, 16th STB. “It strengthened our relationship with the nurses, physician assistants, and the community.” (READ MORE)

Coalition forces impede foreign terrorists coming to Iraq (Mosul) - BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained four suspected terrorists during operations to disrupt the al-Qaeda in Iraq foreign terrorist facilitation network in northern Iraq Wednesday. In Mosul, Coalition forces captured two wanted men and one additional detainee reportedly tied to the AQI network that smuggles materiel and foreigners into Iraq for terrorist attacks. One of the men is also assessed to conspire with AQI senior leaders in Mosul. (READ MORE)

Suicide-Vest attack kills 20, injures 9 - BALAD RUZ, Iraq – A suicide vest attack in Balad Ruz, Iraq, was initially reported as a female bomber who killed 17 and wounded eight on Sept. 15, but the attack is now confirmed to have been a male bomber who killed 20 and wounded nine. The attack was conducted at a house near an Iraqi Police Station during the celebratory Iftar dinner in conjunction with the Ramadan holiday. (READ MORE)

MND-B Soldiers defeat IED, remove munitions from Rashid - FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers disarmed an improvised explosive device during the early morning hours Sept. 16 in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. Soldiers of Troop B, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, notified an explosives ordnance disposal unit at approximately 8:30 a.m. to disarm an IED, comprised of a 155 mm artillery round with a timer and battery pack in a street in the Hadar community of southeastern Baghdad’s Rashid district. (READ MORE)

IED detonates, injures SoI, IA, residents - BAGHDAD – An improvised explosive device attached to a bicycle exploded at approximately 10 a.m. at the Taji Market, northwest of Baghdad, Sept. 16. The explosion wounded three Sons of Iraq guards, two Iraqi Army soldiers and four area residents. Iraqi medical personal responded to treat the wounded. Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, responded to the site and helped treat the injured. (READ MORE)

Coalition Engineers Train Iraqi Soldiers to Build Bridges - CAMP TAJI — Getting Iraq to the point of being able to sustain itself in all operations is an important factor in today’s war on terrorism. With the country being able to govern, defend, and sustain itself, the U.S. military presence has the possibility of being reduced. Getting the military to the point of sustaining itself means getting it trained to handle the tasks and requirements expected of them. (READ MORE)

Soldiers Promote Iraqi Economic Opportunity, Self-reliance for Future Success - CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST — Coalition forces here are working to help Iraqi entrepreneurs learn the skills needed to earn the money to remain successful after the coalition leaves. The Iraqi-based Industrial Zone initiative is helping 14 Iraqi-owned businesses - six of them industrial and eight retail - operating on Q-West. (READ MORE)

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